Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Shadow Boxing: Warriors of Chaos vs Host of the Eternity King

On your Souls, I cast Blight! 
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

Oh, this one's going to have the beards wagging and no mistake! A fearsome 2000-point matchup that brings a very special General for the Warriors of Chaos with the premier in Eternity Host Leaders! Skype Fight Nights are pleased to present:

Be'Lakor vs Malekith!

In the Grey Corner, it's me, Kraken!

And in the other, equally Grey Corner, it's Kas!

To give you a measure of the miasmatic confusion that coated this game, we're both going to write in the same font! Really? okay, let's see how that works out....





Be'Lakor, A Special Daemon Prince with a host of nasty rules and Loremastery of Shadow
Grimm Shado, a BSB with barded steed, Helm of Discord, shield
Chade Darkstar, a Chaos Sorceror with barded steed, dispel scroll, lvl 1 Lore of Death
Slippery Whipple, a Chaos Sorceror with Mark of Slaanesh, lvl 1 Lore of Slaanesh, Feedback scroll
10 Warhounds with vanguard
10 Forsaken
Chaos Chariot of Khorne
Chaos Chariot
5 Chaos Knights with Full Command, Ensorcelled Weapons, War Banner

What was I thinking? Well, I was mostly thinking 'I don't know how to beat any of the nastier End Times characters, let's try something left field.' I didn't know what Kas would take specifically, but we're not playing End Times to bring multiple small units of spearmen, let's face it.

This army is built on the concept of Ld-based attacks.

Be'Lakor comes with a handy -1 Ld bubble; the Lore of Slaanesh has several Ld focussed spells. The Lore of Death gives you Doom and Darkness for a nasty -3 penalty. Be'Lakor then gets extra power for failed panic tests and the Helm of Discord can really ruin a character's day, especially if his Ld is down. Hellcannon shots hurt Ld. Even the War Banner's extra pip of resolution can lean on the same effect. Being an unkillable killing machine isn't going to help anyone if they're running away or paralysed, right?

If I learnt anything from last year's Wizard's Cup, it's that the Lore of Shadow is lethal if used properly. And that Feedback Scrolls really bug your opponent - it's that mental pressure not to use too many dice that upset them more than the actual effects. Further, I'm hoping to use the End Times spell Bridge of Shadows to hurl my troops around unpredictably. That should ruin someone's day too - fast and zippy Chaos Warriors!

What's that you say? I'm facing Dark Elves with a spare Phoenix led by the Eternity King?


Mr Malekith's Fast Magic Riders

Malekith, Eternity King version
20 Witch Elves
10 Dark Riders
5 Doomfire Warlocks
5 Sisters of the Thorn
A Frostheart Phoenix

Ok I was going to keep going with the fast regime, two units of fast cavs wizards with two lores each and a larger unit for ranged. The witchelves filled up the core and seemed more interesting than just sticking with horses or going for more archers, and by the time I had put Malekith in, all I had left was points for a phoenix.

I had been accused of the expectation of taking Malekith last time, so I thought I would this!

I really should have seen it coming, shouldn't I?


Kas generated a nicely balanced table. A Khemrian Quicksand marsh in the middle, a Wyrding Well on the left, two hills, two mystery woods and a house with walls. Or nice white picket fences, maybe. 

I went South, for what the difference was worth! As ever, the map is a pale reflection of reality. Mostly near the mark, though.

Terrain (approximate, mostly it's the swamp that's wrong and that threw everything else off)


After vanguarding, we had a situation that looked like this:

Deployment (also approximate)

The Elf vanguards held the middle of the field, pointing in all directions so they could sweep all round the swamp when their turn came. The Chaos line got ready to receive them, but in time-honoured tradition, sent the dogs out to die early.

Worth mentioning at this point that we'd decided on a slightly modified set of rules for the magic phase. Neither of us like the End Times ability to repeat cast lower level spells, it's cheesy and feels unfair. So we wrote it out - you could now only try to cast the same spell again if you had multiple versions of it from multiple wizards (not something either of us in the event had), and even then, one successful cast was the max in a single magic phase.

First turn to Chaos!

WoC Turn 1

WoC 1

Time to get the Ld tricks going. Be'Lakor plunged into the V-shaped gap between the Dark Riders and Sisters of the Thorn, staying just under 12" away. The chariots came forward a little, the Forsaken hugged the nearest fence.

I knew the warhounds were going to get outmanouvered whatever they did, so I left them pretty much where they were. I couldn't charge the Warlocks, or I would have.

Magic netted me my first disaster, as the Death Sorceror got an unstoppable Doom and Darkness on the Dark Riders before forgetting that he ever was a wizard. So much for my dispel scroll - no wizard levels means no using wizard items, I reckon. I still scraped a Thorn Sister off with some Slaaneshi Slicing Shards, but everything else fizzled or got Malekithed. That's a new verb, but when you're up against a lvl 5 dispeller, you need a couple of those.

My last trick was to cast Bridge of Shadows, and stick the Chaos Knights right in the back of the Dark Elf lineup. Via Skype, I could see Kas's brow furrow drastically.

It did.

The Hellcannon got a lovely shot right on the middle of the Dark Riders, picking off three. Now, even with a total of -5 to their Ld (Doom and Darkness, Hellcannon penalty, being near Be'Lakor), they still passed the test thanks to Malekith.

Malekithed again. I could see this becoming a pattern.

HotEK Turn 1

HotEK 1

The dark riders swing round the swamp and eye up that potentially life-giving water, and are feeling better after drinking the regen lucozade, they go on to shoot a few of the warhounds, but not enough to panic them. 

The phoenix nips to hide between the hut. The warlocks move to the side of the newly arrived knights and Malekith hovers behind them. Whilst the Thorn sisters head up on to the hill, dangerously close the the hellcannon which fights at its bonds.

Magic sees the knights miasmed and then pit-o-shaded killing two; and the sisters sling a boosted Amber Spear taking two wounds off the Hellcannon.

WoC Turn 2

WoC 2
Be'Lakor swooped to the flank of the (sacrificial) Witch Elves. If I gave them something to charge, they might end up in the middle of the field where my chariots can run them down. To oblige, the chariots tiptoed forwards, while the sorceror and Forsaken carefully hid from the phoenix on the other side of the house.

The knights stayed put - nothing for them to charge, and nowhere worth moving to, although that was more of a retrospective justification given that I forgot about them.

I did offer for you to go back... but you convinced me that standing still was your plan.

True! But people only know you've made a mistake if you own up to it. I admit nothing!

The Warhounds moved to face the Dark Riders, and swigged down some of the lovely well water - I got models back too! Two of them. Huh.

Magic! Once more, I managed Bridge of Shadows, and stuck the Knights round behind the Doomfire Warlocks again.

Ah.. so there was a plan!

Well, that might be a strong term for it. But they could see how they like being dodged around for a change. After that, I got nothing much else. Malekith got lumbered with a boosted Miasma, but it wasn't going to slow him down much (he lost movement, but it isn't taken off your flight distance for some reason).

Apparently fly is 20 not based on movement characteristic, so if you change movement characteristic, you still fly 20.

And the Slaaneshi Sorceror muffed most of his spell attempts.

The Hellcannon managed another splendid shot, though, and destroyed another clutch of Dark Riders. Once again, despite their magical penalties, Malekith kept them in the game. Malekiiiiith!

HotEK Turn 2

HotEK 2

The Warlocks aren't actually in the swamp, but have headed towards the centre. 

The warhounds are shot up and flee, after the Dark Riders regen again. 

Hellcannon gets a series of massive S and T nerfs before succumbing to an unstoppable Dwellers Below that also kills 75% of the remaining Sisters... 1 left. 

Malekith manages a massive -3 Miasma on the unmarked chariot, then swaps places with the phoenix with Smoke and Mirrors, setting up his flank attacks

WoC Turn 3

WoC 3

The chariots dither about. I wondered about getting the impact hits in on Malekith, but then he's not only behind a wall, but gets his ridiculous ward save against them. So I'll stay put, see if I can drag his Ld bubble off the Witch Elves a bit more.

The Knights head for the Witch Elf flank; Be'Lakor lurks ominously behind them. The Warhounds continue to flee, ignoring all the banner waving from the BSB. And the Forsaken take the building, giving their sorceror lovely views of the surrounding countryside.

Magic was a bit of a fizzle again. What wasn't Malekithed was power slumped, with the Slaaneshi Sorceror proving particularly unable to either cast or get past Big M's dispel wall. And I didn't have shooting any more (sigh), so it was a quick turn.

HotEK Turn 3

HotEK 3

Malekith brings the pain to the Khorne Chariot, taking out 20 of its wounds on the charge. 

The Phoenix beats the other chariot 3-0, but can't break it. 

There's a perfect storm of debuffs on the Chaos Knights, including Enfeebling Foe, Withering, a boosted Miasma and Soulblight, before a Pit of Shades clips them, knocks a wound off the BSB and kills another knight. 

The Witch Elves charge the building, and despite killing seven Forsaken handily, lose twelve in the process thanks to that lucky ASF result and a decent set of random attack rolls from me (One to check.. can you kill more than the ten actually fighting, ie is there still step up... Not that it would have changed the result or ultimate fate, I suspect!) 

Sisters and Riders both drink from the well; the Riders get stupid and stubborn, the Sisters vomit a lot... nothing from her this turn.

WoC Turn 4

WoC 4

Now I have them right where I want them! The Witch Elves, specifically. Nothing else is remotely where I want it, particularly the Hellcannon and the Chariot of Khorne.

Be'Lakor charged all those tempting Witch Elf rumps; the Forsaken thought about yielding to their frenzy and leaving the house, but kept indoors in the end. The knights staggered forwards under their burden of debuffs. Chaos elite? Right now, they were just over-dressed goblins. Behind them, the warhounds yelped doggedly off the table.

Magic went well. The Frostheart got a generous -2S from Enfeebling Foe. Be'Lakor also slapped a Miasma on it, then nearly got a Pit of Shades off. And nearly got a Pendulum off as well, which would have drawn a nice line through the Witch Elves too (and probably the chariot, frankly). Sadly, there was just too much Malekithing going on. Him and his fancy bonus dice. Ponce.

Taken umbrage at Malekith's fancy ways, the Slaaneshi Sorceror managed an unstoppable Cacophonic Choir on him. This is a very nasty spell, and could very handily deal with the Elf King over a round or two - he's got no defences against it to speak of. Worse, even if I only scratched a wound off him, he was left with random movement and Always Strikes Last. Hurrah! And well worth the lost wound and drained power dice it cost me.

Combat is a mixed blessing. The Witch Elves, even without frenzy, still muster enough attacks to slice three wounds off Be'Lakor! Curse my weak rolling. I nearly whiff the combat as well, saving it with six last-minute Thunderstomps to break and overrun the foe. This leaves me a little closer to Malekith than I'd like, but with his current state of mind, he'd have to be very lucky to reach me.

HotEK Turn 4

HotEK 4

Malekith is going to stagger... but which way, it is a short walk to the chariot and an ambitious lurch for belakor... he manages to stagger into the chariot. 

Malekith takes 27 of the chariots 2 remaining wounds and wonders why he held back flinging spells for two turns.... Where's Be'Lakor!!!

I realised afterwards that Malekimbo was ASL from the Slaaneshi spell, as was the chariot. But let's be honest, I wasn't going to beat 27 wounds for resolution.

The sisters drink again and their fallen sisters return from the battlefield to rejoice at the well, the Warlocks manage to throw a miscast Purple Sun down the Knights at long last. They lose two of their own, but the Knights lose the sorceror and their champion. 

The Dark Riders can't hit Be'Lakor, he's just too shadowy.

WoC Turn 5

WoC 5

As my battle line gently folds like a weeping guitar, I resort to last gasp measures. The Chaos Knights try a charge on Malekith, but don't make the distance. This leaves them breathing into the frosty beak of the Phoenix. Eep.

Be'Lakor takes his remaining wound round the back of Malekith, and the sorceror restrains his wibbly chums in the farmhouse.

Magic goes nowhere. The Slaaneshi Sorceror lacks the power he needs for any of his useful spells, failing to cast anything at all. Even Aquiescence, the dolt. Be'Lakor gets Malekithed on a couple of shadow spells, but at least manages to pull the Knights to his side with a third Bridge of Shadows. That's it from me, though, I'm low on options and luck.

HotEK Turn 5

HotEK 5

Malekith charges the farmhouse, where the sorceror will have to challenge him. 

Knowing his imminent fate, when Malekith spends four dice on casting a boosted Miasma on the Knights a last minute Feedback Scroll is pulled out causing two wounds. 

Flock of Doom manages to peck Be'Lakor's last wound away, and a Doombolt does for the Knight and BSB.

The challenge goes predictably badly and 29 wounds are caused before the sorceror fights back and so the Forsaken flee the cottage.


It wouldn't be a Skype Night without me being tabled! So at this point I can reveal that getting tabled was my secret objective all along, I'd like to claim 100 VPs for achieving it.


This was a very entertaining game to play! All that shadowy slinking about made the WoC army feel surprisingly agile. But I rather misused it - the Knights, for example, would have done much better if they'd gone round the back of the Witch Elves on their second bridge.

I think you're right. I might have reformed and enjoyed the fight. The WE were definitely sacrificial, but I think their frenzied poisonous armour piercing may have chipped a couple of knights away.

As ever, Kas played his elves very nicely, nipping about and whittling all over the shop. The Witch Elves got unlucky, or at least I should have dealt with them better. If I feel slighted that the Wyrding Well deprived me of quite a lot of hard-earned points, at least it also gave me two Warhounds back. Phew.

True... it did bring back/keep a unit above half strength preventing you claiming points. I did have plans for the sisters on the turn they were vomiting, but ultimately I can't say it hurt my outcome.

To me, this variant on End Times magic improved it quite a bit. It's still horribly magic-heavy, of course, with the rest of the battle a cheerful sideshow compared to who can do the most spell damage. But we were both loaded for magical bear, so it didn't feel quite as unbalanced as it has in previous games. Not being able to repeat cast spells helps a lot in this respect, I'd strongly recommend that as an amended rule.

Yep, happy with that. 

My next steps on the hunt for better End Times magic are:

  • Use 8th Ed magic rules but with the End Times Spell Selection
  • Use End Times magic rules but with 8th Ed Spell Selection
  • Use Full End Times magic rules but give Wizards one spell per level only, then let them pick those spells from the Lores they have access to
  • Can we add: use end times magic rules with end times spell selection but without the random rolls for winds (and without dispel restriction).

Notes and Queries

I realised after the game that I'd actually given the Forsaken the Mark of Tzeentch! The sorceror should have been footslogging along beside them the whole time. Not, in the event, that it really changed much, and I didn't use the MR it gave them. Not giving them that bonus and spending the points elsewhere would have been sensible.

But they shouldn't have been able to share the house with the sorceror, which might have made it more tempting to kill him earlier. I'm quite happy to anull the game and call it a draw if you want, Kas?

Let me think about that....

Hitting Malekith with Cacophonic Choir earlier and more often would have been good. And in retrospect, the best way to do it would be to take a pair of Daemon Princes, Be'Lakor and a second Slaaneshi one with high-end magic. Not only would that give you the frankly ludicrous (and Ld-based) Slaaneshi End Times spell, but Be'Lakor could also swap places with the Slaaneshi DP using the Shadow Lore attribute very handily. I wonder if this has been done anywhere?

Sounds very good plan

Ld bubble queries - do your spell-based penalties stack on a unit stack to the General's Leadership if it gets used? I.e. even if a unit has Doom and Darkness on it, can they use the General's full Ld? That feels wrong to me, somehow, although I understand the ruling.

If I am wrong, I apologise; but my understanding was D&D reduces their stat and Inspiring presence says you can use someone else's leadership for those tests, hence why I did not think affected. 

Nerf Suggestion - Bound Spells can be spammed in ET, someone ought to take that away. Similarly, I'd suggest that units like Sisters of the Thorn and Doomfires should only get the listed spells in their lists rather than full use of a Lore. Doomfires in particular, with their fast cav Purple Suns, feel double broken with these rules, and nobody was accusing them of being underpar previously!

There is more than just frustrated bitterness after repeated maulings by the Warlocks to this request. As a comparison:

  • A unit of 5 Doomfires (effectively a level 2 wizard with five effective wounds, fast cav, poisoned melee attacks, a 4+ ward that will occasionally vanish and access to two lores of magic) = 125 points
  • A Level 2 Sorceress (a level 2 wizard with 2 wounds, access to a single lore of magic and let's be generous and give her a steed) = 125 points

Yes, you can give her an equivalent ward save. For 45 extra points. Or some other tricks like dispel scrolls and so on. But for exactly the same points, you get a much more dangerous and effective unit, especially under End Times rules. At the very least, you'd have to concede that the points costs are poorly chosen and don't reflect the units' abilities.

This isn't the only example of the often bizarre points values given in WFB, of course, just one that's particularly buggy.

Completely fair and valid conclusion. I imagine that there will be errata


  1. Not to worry, I'm sure the fifth End Times book will come out with your very own 1000pt 'Be'lakor Ascended' megazord.

    Regarding the rules queries:
    - the building 'assault party' rules are not clear, but seem to imply that you can lose no more than 10 models (which may be more than 10 wounds if any of those models are multi-wound), but you cannot 'spill over' wounds into the unit, as with regular combat. (this is different from 'step up', which does allow slain models to be replaced, so there is always 10 in the assault party).

    - the general's 'Inspiring Presence' Ld is reduced by Doom and Darkness, even if the general himself is not affected by the spell (FAQ v9)

    - unless this was for Kraken's own fluff purposes, a Lv0 wizard can still channel dice (FAQ v9), used arcane items (FAQ v9) and therefore suffer the effects of Magical Feedback.

    1. Ah! That dispel scroll might have saved... well, probably nobody, really. He'd have been as likely to be killed by the feedback the Slaaneshi guy generated later on as anything else anyway!

      Assault party - that seems sensible. So supposing my ten guys in the building had been allowed to go first and killed some attackers, they'd get step up from the pool behind them to make it up to ten again (and vice versa), but I'd not be able to kill more than ten at once. Bigger doors would be needed.

    2. Apologies on the D&D!

      Interestingly if a lvl0 wizard can still channel, and use arcane items, can they (as they still have spells in ET) cast with a +0 bonus?

    3. No worries on the DnD!

      Which spells? You only get the fancy new End Times stuff, including the summon fulcrum spell, if you're level 3 or higher.

      Oh, wait - of course, they lose one spell per level, but they've still got access to another six per lore! Er, my suggestion would be 'no' on account of the huge magical hangover they've got. But I don't really see why they shouldn't...

    4. You mean that possibility isn't covered in the rules? I guess they ran out of space on the napkin.

      Given that End Times is meant to be a magical jamboree, I'd say yes: a Lv0 wizard can cast all the spells of his lore, baring the one he lost (which is gone forever) and with no bonus.

  2. As for End Times Magic house rules:

    - Restricting the Doomfire Warlocks and Sisters of the Thorn to their set spells, treating them as 'bound' ability spells seems overwhelmingly sensible. (What is the difference between being 'considered a Lv2 Wizard' - as it says in the army books - and actually *being* a Lv2 Wizard - they don't channel power dice, do they?)

    - removing the random number of dice to cast/dispel would dramatically improve the magic system. If we make no other change, it should be that.

    - I'm not sure the 'spamming the same spell' rule needs to be removed. With the random allocation removed (as above), a player now has a choice of going for the big End Times spell once, or lobbing a Flock of Doom five times over. I think if you could only cast spells once, and were looking at a pool of 20 dice and only one lore, we may see more six-dicing of spells, rather than tactical use.

    - Similarly, while I find the access to the entire spelldeck to be overwhelming (my first preference was Wizard Level + 1 number of spells), it might come good with more practice. Some of our recent battles have been extreme examples of super-characters with access to many lores (usually, even a special character can only use one). So if we remove the Warlocks/Sisters, you're looking at maybe one or two full lores per side? Doesn't seem so unworkable, especially if you have more control over the casting.

    The issue is: are we trying to make End Times Magic playable, or are we trying to merge the End Times/8th rules into a better system? If the former, then I think we need to keep a bit of magical craziness, as that is the point of the End Times. Mind you, there is enough virtue in both systems that we could try for the latter.

    1. I want to live in the End Times Magic House. It rules.

    2. Sounds like the kind of place you'd find Rod Hull and Emu.

      Grotbags Ascendant!

    3. There's somebody at the door!
      There's somebody at the door!
      There's somebody at the door!
      There's somebody at the door!
      Shit it's Archaon